EU Membership for Turkey: Endless Negotiations?

Rana Deep Islam


Dr. Rana Deep Islam works as a Business Development Executive in the Government and Public Sector for Germany, Switzerland, and Austria at EY, one of the largest professional services firms. Prior to joining EY he worked as a campaign manager for the SPD’s chancellor candidate Martin Schulz during his campaign in the run-up to the German federal elections in 2017. Prior to that, he was in charge of the management of the European project portfolio at Stiftung Mercator and gained further professional experience at the European Parliament, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Rana holds an MA from the College of Europe in Bruges and a PhD from the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. In his PhD studies, Rana compared the Middle East politics of the EU and Turkey. He was a DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow in May and June 2011. Rana publishes frequently in academic journals and media on European affairs and German politics.

German-American Issues 16

More than ten years after the EU initiated negotiations for Turkey’s EU membership, the country remains locked in negotiations, with economic concerns, human rights, and the Cyprus issue looming large. Turkey is an essential country in the West’s relations with the Middle East and is a key NATO ally. Germany, as a leader in the EU with a sizeable population of Turkish descent, is an integral player in the EU’s enlargement policy toward Turkey and the two countries share deep ties. Indeed, German President Joachim Gauck’s recent visit to Turkey shows the close educational and cultural connection between the two countries. At the same time, his criticism of Turkish democracy and freedoms highlights the challenges still facing the country and has sparked tensions between Ankara and Berlin. The United States is also invested in Turkey’s relationship with Europe, emphasizing the need for Turkey to be integrated into Western institutions as a model for an Islamic democracy in its larger neighborhood, in addition to its value as a strategic NATO partner. But Washington is also concerned about Turkey’s recent domestic turbulences.

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The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.